Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors
Time Out saysParadjanov was considered a safe director of Ukrainian 'quota' features until he seized a unique moment of freedom to make this Carpathian rhapsody, which spoke loud his own closet dissidence and ushered in a flood of non-conformist movies from the other regional Soviets, including Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev and Abuladze's The Wishing Tree. The 'forgotten ancestors' are mid-19th century villagers, who frolic naked in their youth and grow up into adulterers, lovelorn misfits, and feuding murderers. Their 'shadows' are not exactly sombre either: Paradjanov stops at nothing in his quest for startling images. The athletic camerawork and the bizarre visual effects take their tone from the folk ballads that recur on the soundtrack, sometimes touching an authentically barbaric or tragic poetry. The film is as chaotic as The Colour of Pomegranates is formalised, but it confirms that Paradjanov was 'dangerous' because he was committed to artifice - and imagination.